Former prime ministers of Italy and Finland resign from Russian corporate boards

The former prime ministers of Italy and Finland resigned from the boards of two Russian companies on Thursday following Vladimir Putin’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.

Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister of Italy and a senator for the centrist Italia Viva party, walked away from Delimobil, Russia’s largest car-sharing service, founded by Italian businessman Vincenzo Trani, in response to Russia’s military action.

The former Italian prime minister emailed Delimobil’s board of directors on Thursday morning to communicate his resignation with immediate effect, according to people with knowledge of the conversation. Renzi declined to comment.

Esko Aho, the former prime minister of Finland, quit the board of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, where he was an independent director and member of the supervisory board. “I have today initiated measures to withdraw from the board,” he told local media.

The resignations underline the pressure on members of the western business and political elite who sit on corporate boards of Russian groups, as Vladimir Putin launched what could be the biggest military operation in Europe since the second world war.

Other former European politicians and public officials with ties to Russian corporate boards include Germany’s former chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who sits on the board of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and has been nominated to join Gazprom’s board, the Russian gas supplier. France’s former prime minister, François Fillon, sits on the board of Sibur, the petrochemicals group.

Austria’s former chancellor Christian Kern is on the board of Russian Railways while Karin Kneissl, former Austrian foreign minister, sits on the board of Rosneft.

Trani, the founder of Demobil, is also the head of the Italy-Russia chamber of commerce, the group that promoted a meeting between Putin and top Italian business leaders last month. The car-sharing company was set to go public at the end of last year but the listing was postponed due to the rising geopolitical tensions.

Western executives, including BP chief executive Bernard Looney, Nord Stream 2 chief Matthias Warnig and Eni’s Ernesto Ferlenghi, also sit on Russian corporate boards.

Looney is a director of Rosneft, as is Bob Dudley, the former chief executive of BP.

Warnig is the chair of the Transneft board, the gas pipeline operator, and Rusal, the aluminum producer. He also sits on the board of Rossiya Bank and is a member of the supervisory board of VTB Bank. Ferlenghi, is a board member of Federal Grid, the operator and manager of Russia’s unified electricity transmission grid system

Lord Barker of Battle, a climate minister under former UK prime minister David Cameron, runs Rusal’s parent company En +.

Neil Hume in London and Richard Milne in Oslo contributed reporting

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